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Special permits and Interior Ministry reaction

By Messenger Staff
Friday, October 2
The Minister of Interior Affairs, Giorgi Mghebrishvili, annulled special permits on September 30 that allowed representatives of law-enforcement bodies to move freely, through violating of traffic rules in the course of operative-searching activities since 2009.

The Minister made the decision after the spread of a scandalous video by a former Ministry official, who stated that the current high-ranking officials were being given the permits to their family members.

He stressed that he stopped a brother of the current Deputy Head of the State Security Service Levan Izoria, who was allegedly drunk, and released him shortly as the individual revealed the permit.

It should be stressed that the permits are issued based on a confidential decree signed by the Minister of Interior Affairs.

The decree should on the one hand protect the Law on Police and on the other hand ensure non-stop movement of law-enforcers while they are conducting operative –searching activities.

If the permit is in the hands of ordinary citizens, this is a violation of law, as they can use the permit for illegal actions as police will not be allowed to stop them after presenting the permit.

The Minister has stressed that the permits issued since 2009, since the previous state Government period, would be rejected and everyone who owned them would be deprived of them.

Instead a new decree will come into effect over the following days that would regulate the procedure of issuing the permits.

The Minister stated that the decree elaborated under the former state leadership was vague and required modification.

The fact that the Minister annulled the permits is welcomed, as through the action the Minister responded to the ongoing criticism over the case reasonably and satisfied public demand; a rare event under the previous government.

It is true that the previous authorities did an admirable job with regards to combating criminals, especially with mafia-esque crime bosses; however, they also arguably granted too much power to the police and security forces, which raised the risk of Georgia becoming a police state. Crimes committed by the law-enforcement bodies’ representatives were mainly ignored, thus there was a risk of the emergence of criminal policemen instead of criminal bosses.

To return to Mghebrishvili’s decision, one question remains. The Minister made the solution after releasing the video footage.

It was known to everyone that the permits had been issued since 2009. The Ministry officials should also have known that such permits might also be in possession of previous ruling party members and their relatives. They should have known concerning the threats as according to Minister the decrees based on which the permits were issued was vague.

Then why did the current Interior Ministry leadership not change the decree earlier? The current Georgian Government has been in office since 2012.

Why was the release of scandalous videos a necessary precondition for annulling the obscure decree?

We need the government and Ministers who react swiftly on possible threats; a three-year period was a quite long time for annulling a decree of this kind.